June 22 – Paper

Today’s writing prompt is Paper. An interesting choice for the first full day of summer.  I don’t know about you, but I love to read paperback books in the summer. There is nothing better than a well-worn book that you can read at the beach or pool. I normally buy these at a used bookstore and then can fold them if needed. However, I prefer bookmarks to mark each time I stop reading.

My photo includes a paperback book that I enjoyed reading, as well as a picture that I colored. It was in a book of lighthouses. There are a few more drawings to color. I will have to see where that book is. Not sure why the eye shadow is there except that this photo may have been originally posted as another subject.

This year we won’t be reading any books at the beach. I hope we can go to the beach next year, but will have to wait and see. However, there will be time to swim at the pool and that should be fun. We will just be sure to have plenty of sunscreen, cold drinks, a great book, and an umbrella.

Call me old school, but I like actual books and newspapers to read.  I like to hold that paper in my hand, see the pages printed, and get the ink on my fingers from the papers as I make my way through the sections. I haven’t been able to go electronic yet. Maybe one day.

My first professional job was at a newspaper after college. I loved it but the pay was terrible. Still, I learned so much from the founder of the paper, the publisher, and the editor, as well as all of the interesting people I met along the way. It was a great place to learn the business and develop my skills.

Everyone at the newspaper did a variety of tasks since it was such a small staff. For example, our publisher helped with layout of the paper. This was done with actual paper with Exacto knives and blue pens. It was a while ago. Now, layout is on a computer. So much has changed since I worked at this paper in the early 1990s.

Having the publisher do this helped me learn that a great boss will get in the trenches with his staff and do what is needed to have everyone succeed and meet deadlines. He never acted like he was better than any of us and that made a great impression on this then young and naive reporter.  He was very supportive of me and the rest of the employees and wanted the best for us.

I wrote a variety of stories for the paper, each with a slightly different format. I wrote news articles of accidents, county commission meetings, school board meetings, arrests, covered courtroom cases, and other subjects. I also wrote features and was able to interview and write about all of the new commissioners.

I learned to love and truly appreciate the first amendment through this job. I continue to fight for it and support journalists. They are not perfect by any means, but in my opinion, must be able to do their jobs, ask the hard questions, and report on what is going on.

Recently there has been an attack on the media and this has me baffled and upset.  Granted, much of today’s news is very biased and one-sided. That is frustrating and so very different than what I learned in journalism school.  But, I wouldn’t trade it for a state-run media and the government telling reporters what they can say and print.

Many places in the world have this control. A few amazing things about our country are the 1st Amendment and the three branches of government.  In America, freedom of speech and freedom of religion are protected. The hard thing about it is giving equal time to someone we strongly disagree with.

My hope is that we can learn from those we agree with as well as those we don’t. And that we can listen to each other and try to find out where we are all are coming from.  If we don’t do that, we may never find a way to bridge the gap that seems to keep growing wider and wider.

I wonder what the next book or article is that I will read?  I am not sure but am so looking forward to it. Take care and happy summer!

Advertisements

TBT – Love of Books

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world.  Love of books is the best of all.” — Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” — Maya Angelou

Hi and Happy Thursday! Here is a photo of a young Ian looking at one of his board books.  This was before he could read.  Once he learned, he was unstoppable and now loves to read.  He wasn’t sure he could learn but did and we are so proud of him.

Speaking of books, I just started reading a book called, “Everything I Need to Know I Learned From A Children’s Book.”  It includes life lessons from notable people from all walks of life. For each of these people, there is a quote from the book that influenced them, the title, person’s name and what that book meant to them.

It is really cool, has a lot of great information, and reminded me of a few of my favorites.  A few featured people are: Jay Leno who liked Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and the inventor of the artificial heart who liked The Wizard of Oz. This book has me thinking of what books have influenced me. There have been many.

I never seem to be without a book.  I love to read and cannot remember a time that I didn’t.  I love to be transported to another world and be immersed in the stories and the character’s lives.  One of my favorite books as a child was “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  I loved this book and the mystery of that garden and seeing what it meant to the lead character.

I have the book and plan to re-read it soon as an adult.  I wonder if it will have the same allure and amazement to me as a grownup?  I wonder if it will mean as much to me now as it did then?  I cannot wait to find out.  I will share my impressions with you.  I just have to figure out when I want to start on this journey back to my childhood.

A few other favorites from my childhood were:

  • The Snow Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
  • anything and everything by Richard Scarry
  • The Mouse and The Motorcycle
  • The Nancy Drew Mysteries
  • The Hardy Boys Mysteries
  • The Little House on The Prairie Series
  • The Chronicles of Narnia series

Ian has some favorites too.  Some that he has enjoyed are:

  • Good Night Moon (which I must have read 200 times or more to him)
  • The Foot Book and many other Dr. Seuss books
  • Charlotte’s Web
  • The One and Only Ivan
  • Star Wars: The Jedi Academy series
  • A Dog’s Life about a stray dog
  • James and The Giant Peach
  • The Warriors series by Erin Hunter, which he just finished

As an adult, I have other books that I have enjoyed reading or that have influenced me:  Roots by Alex Haley, Jemima J by Jane Green, Thunder Dog, as well as books by Danielle Steel, Carol Higgins Clark, Jane Porter, and so many others.

How about you?  What books have meant a lot to you?  I would love to hear from you.  Please share with me and the other readers.  I hope that your children enjoy books as well.

Hope you have a great adventure with your next book.  I know that I will.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHi and Happy Wednesday!  Hope you are having a great one so far.  This photo is of a younger Ian reading a book.  He still likes books as much now as he did then.  Now he really likes Lego books, books from the library, his items from the Imagination Library, and several wonderful books by Dr. Seuss.

Last night before he went to bed, we read One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Thus the title for my blog today.  “Mommy, did you know that this book was written by a man named Theodor?” he asked me.  “Yes, Ian, you are exactly right.  His real name is Thedor Seuss Geisel,” I responded.

Then we took turns reading the pages.  As I turned each page, he put his hand over my mouth so he could read.  This made me so happy since he so much wanted to help read the story out loud,  He did a great job too!  He knew almost all of the words and sounded out those he didn’t.

Here are a few of the pages that he read,

  • “Yes, some are red.  And some are blue.  Some are old and some are new.  Some are sad.  And some are glad.”
  • “We see them come.  We see them go.  Some are fast. And some are slow.”
  • “Bump! Bump! Bump! Did you ever ride a Wump? We have a Wump with just one hump.”
  • “Hello there, Ned. How do you do? Tell me, tell me what is new? How are things in your little bed? What is new? Please tell me, Ned.”
  • “The moon was out and we saw some sheep.  We saw some sheep take a walk in their sleep.”
  • “Did you ever fly a kite in bed? Did you ever walk with ten cats on your head?”

Those are just part of what he read.  A few of the pages made him laugh (including that last bullet) and he commented several times on the rhyming words.  Reading the book this way took longer than normal, but was so worth it.

My favorite lines/pages of this book are, “From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere” and “Oh me! Oh my! Oh me! Oh my! What a lot of funny things go by.”  I love the idea of encouraging kids to see the fun and funny things in life.  After all, there are certainly many of them.

I love so many of the Dr. Seuss books and think he is a genius in his writing.  His rhymes and made up characters are loved by me and by Ian.  They truly span the ages.  Isn’t that awesome?!  My dream would be to write like this amazingly gifted man did.  Some of our favorites are The Sleep Book, Horton Hatches The Egg, Horton Hears A Who, Fox in Socks, If I Ran The Zoo, and The Sneetches and Other Stories.

Thank you Dr. Seuss for writing such fun and engaging words for us to enjoy!  You truly had an amazing gift of drawing in young readers and keeping them interested!  He also taught children important lessons through the stories.  At Ian’s school, they recently studied him and he enjoyed that a lot.

I wonder what book we will read at bedtime tonight?  I also wonder what books Ian will read throughout the day?  I look forward to finding out and am thrilled that he loves reading as much as I do!!!!

Toys, Go Stuffed

This is a line often said by Doc McStuffins to her toys when they are about to be seen as being real by her brother, her parents, or her friends.

This is one of Ian’s favorite shows, which airs on the Disney Channel.  He enjoys watching the adventures of Doc and her toys – Lamby, Stuffy, Chilly, and several others.  Doc takes care of them and other toys who get hurt or broken.

Not only is it fun seeing the bond they have, but also the show encourages children to not be scared of going to see the doctor, the doctor’s examination, or the doctor’s office.  Several lessons are being taught in a fun and entertaining way.

Lamby is a ballerina lamb who loves to cuddle.  Stuffy is a brave dragon who likes a good joke.  Chilly is a stuffed snowman who is always thinking he will melt.  They have grown on me and on Ian as well.

He plays the same way with his own toys.  They come to life for Ian and it is an amazing thing to see.  Ian has a few favorite buddies who are now constant companions.  Mouse the Mouse is currently his best stuffed friend.  They do almost everything together — like going to the potty, playing, and planning the day. And, Ian does a great job at making Mouse the Mouse talk.  He has a higher voice than Ian’s voice.

I am seeing his creativity and gift of storytelling expand each day by the interaction he has with his stuffed friends.  His imagination is amazing and inspiring.  The entire world is open to him to learn about and this is one small way he is learning.

In addition to Mouse the Mouse, one of Ian’s faves is his giraffe with a very short neck named Gerry.  Regarding Gerry, we discussed the fact that all of us are different, look very different and that it’s okay not to have to look or be a certain way.  Two other favorites are Baby Mickey and Big Mickey.  They too are helping him learn to take care of himself and others.

Mouse the Mouse is from the amazing “If You Take a Mouse to School” book series.  He is pictured above with his Santa hat on.   We took this picture as we started decorating for Christmas last weekend.

Seeing Ian play with his toys and his love for the Doc McStuffins show has made me think of an amazing book that was one of my friend Dawn’s favorites — The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.  I have been thinking about that story as I see Ian play with his toys that are alive in his eyes.

Do you remember this amazing book?   Here are a few of the most memorable lines:

“Real isn’t how you are made,”  said the Skin Horse.  “It’s a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.  “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “Or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse.  “You become.  It takes a long time.  That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Such love not only applies to toys in my opinion.  We can love each other that way too — unconditionally and without judgement.  Wouldn’t that be amazing if we could love the way that children love?

Toys are alive and well and truly loved in the Cates house.  I hope they are in yours as well!

The Help

Last night I finished reading one of the most thought-provoking books that I have read in a while — “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett.

As you probably know, it was turned into an award-winning movie, which I haven’t yet seen.  I wanted to read the story first before seeing the movie.

And yet, I almost didn’t finish reading it.  The material was hard to read.  I was raised to believe that all people are created equal — no matter the color of their skin — so to read so much about people being treated poorly and like less of a person because they looked different was disturbing.

But, the sad fact is that this was a terrible part of our country’s history.  As much as I don’t like it, it did happen.  I suppose the best thing to do is to learn from mistakes like this so we don’t repeat them.

And, the other thing is to teach the next generation — like my son and his cousins — that all people are created equal and can be your friend. And, more importantly that all people have value and are worth knowing and spending time with.

I have been fortunate in my life to have friends of a variety of races, religions, and walks of life.  It has been amazing to learn the different things about them, but to also realize that we are very similar in the things that truly matter.

I did like seeing the strong female characters in this book.  And, ones who were willing to stand up for something that mattered to them.  That is something encouraging and interesting and did allow me to become truly engrossed in this novel.

Another thing is that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things.  A new concept does matter and can make amazing changes in people’s lives.

I am curious if you read this book or have seen the movie, what your thoughts were about it.  Please share them with me and the other readers.

I can’t help but wonder what Minny, Aibilene, the other maids in this story, Skeeter, and the real maids who lived at this time would think about our current president.  Definitely something to think about.

The Power of Books

This morning I finished a really good book by an author who I have enjoyed for a while now — Jane Green.

It was called “Promises To Keep” and without giving away the story, it is one that will make you think and truly appreciate your loved ones and how truly precious and short life is.

When I picked it up I didn’t realize the true subject of the book as it is deep in the story where you find out a main and loved character is very ill.

I have several friends who are ill right now and I couldn’t help but think about them and shed a few tears as I was reading the end of the book.  As I closed the book, I said prayers for my friends and asked for the Lord to pour out His love and mercy to them.  And, I prayed for their families as well.

Isn’t it something how much a work of fiction can affect us?  In either a good way or a bad way. We can lose ourselves in another world and truly come to love the characters we are reading about.

Then when you finish the book, you want to read more and not let those characters go.  You want to continue to go on their journey. That is how I have felt today with that book I finished.  I didn’t want it to end yet I knew that it would.

That to me is the sign of a great story.  There are many kinds that I like — chick lit, mysteries, stories about Amish people, police stories, romances, and many others.

Another book by Jane Green that I really liked is “Jemima J.” I have read this book three times. The book is about ugly ducklings and swans and the main character trying to lose weight (something I can truly relate to).  Jemima is a great girl who you can’t help rooting for and hoping that she will succeed. I imagine I will be reading about her once again.

I also like several other authors a lot and have read many of their books — Carol Higgins Clark writes wonderful mysteries as does her mother, Mary Higgins Clark.  And, I also really have enjoyed Danielle Steel for several years and recently discovered Michael Connelly.

I still remember one of my favorite books when I was a girl, “The Secret Garden.” This is the first book that I really remember enjoying and getting totally swept into. I want to re-read it and see if it holds any of the magic that it used to.

My favorite book series growing up were the “Little House on the Prairie” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C. S. Lewis.  These were two very distinctive and very different worlds that I was transported into.  I imagined the lives of the characters and wanted to be there with them.

Most of my family loves to read and we like a wide variety.  I am glad of that and enjoy talking to them about a story that was one that they couldn’t put down. Reading books is something to celebrate, in my opinion.

My son Ian has loved books for a while and is now in the early stages of reading.  We regularly go to our city’s library and check out 15 to 20 books at a time for him.  He grins and enjoys each story. I truly love seeing him light up when we read him a story and he later goes back and reads it to himself.

Recently, he has discovered Dr. Seuss.  We have “The Foot Book” and the ABC book as well.  He really likes both of those and recently quoted from The Foot Book.

I hope to write a few books one of these days.  I really want to write a children’s book or book series and will chat with Ian and my nieces and nephews about some ideas.

One idea is in the back of my mind, however, and has been for years.  My grandfather told us stories for many years about a few characters.  I want to compile these into stories for my family. Maybe this year I can work on that. I just need to see what they remember so we can get them recorded on paper before we all forget them.

I am also toying with the idea of writing either a short story or a novel.  I have a story already started and will see where it takes me. I will keep you posted on the progress of this endeavor.

I would love to hear about the books that you enjoy reading.  Please share with us the ones that really spoke to you.

I wonder if I can write as interesting a book as I enjoy reading.  I am going to try, that’s for sure.  Happy reading!!